n Institute of African Studies Research Review - In the shadow of Christiansborg : architectural history and genealogy of the Okantey Trading House at Danish Osu




The Christiansborg Castle, built by the Danes in 1661 at Osu, has an interesting history as an architectural entity. Emerging out of its original roots in the old Portuguese Ursu lodge (1640), and the Swedish fort (1652), it went through different constructional phases to become a fortress with a commanding architectural presence. <br>It began to dominate the landscape in the surround of the indigenous huts and houses built by the local trading families and their mulattoe relations. Besides being the headquarters building of the Danish colonial administration and trading activities on the Guinea Coast, Christiansborg served its function well as an architectural contraption for self-defence, domination and exploitation of the natives, as well as a means of abuse of human rights of the several slaves, who sojourned in its courtyards, warehouses and dungeons. <br>In 1753 one of the Danish sojourning Governors, Carl Engmann built an underground water cistern with a baroque style in the courtyard of the Christiansborg. The power of the architectural presence of this baroque architectural detail was transmitted into one of the indigenous slave houses as a replica. This house, located today at Osu Agblanshi in the old sections of Danish Osu, belongs to the Okantey family. <br>This paper discusses the architectural history of this slave-house, located nearby, on the north-east of Christianborg. It further explores the genealogy of the various groups of people who have been associated with this indigenously built slave house, which derived its spirit and form from the architecture of Christiansborg. The paper concludes with some reflections on lessons of meta-physical and moral consequences of the practice of slavery in Danish Osu.


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